blogenlust
12.30.2004

Unspeakable


Over 125,000 feared dead. And the number seems to be increasing by tens of thousands every few hours. I don't know what to say other than don't take anything for granted... This destruction will take years and billions of dollars to rebuild. The damage to the tourism industry in these countries (their biggest economic sector) is immeasurable and who knows how long until they will recover. Yet, why does it seem that the First World is in a philanthropic pissing contest about how much money they are giving in comparison to other countries? I'll admit, I think the US should have given more upfront, and in a perfect world, Bush should have declared that we'll promise to spend however much money it will take to rebuild and recover from the destruction. Instead, the original declaration of $15 million brought forth silly arguments between countries over who was giving what and why weren't they giving more. This has lead US officials like Powell and Bush to offer petty defenses of how much money the US gives in charity each year. This completely misses the point. We shouldn't be feeling good about ourselves just because we donate the most money each year (we also have the most money to give). We should have been pledging to provide as much as it would take from the very beginning. In other words, it's not necessarily the amount of money we first pledged that gets me upset. It's the fact that we didn't say from the get go that we were going to do whatever it takes. Maybe it is a meaningless point, but it bothers me how even the most unavoidable disasters can be so quickly politicized. One last thing...The State Department is reporting that thousands of Americans are still missing. I don't want to assume the worst just yet, but we're talking about 9/11 type numbers here. It got me to thinking of the differences in our reaction to both events. Of course, there is a huge difference in that we were attacked on 9/11, but to me at least, death and destruction is still death and destruction. It is interesting to think about even if you compare our response to the tsunami to the response of other countries to 9/11. I'll never forget the Le Monde headline: "Today We're All Americans." How come it took the President of the United States three or four days to make public statements to the effected countries? Just thinking aloud here (and through a heavily congested head...so please forgive the disconnected thinking and writing :))